Kickin' It With Carl
Obviously, at the end, Tony got his car a lot faster, but even then, I still felt confident. If you've only got to race one or two guys, that's the key. If you're the third-fastest car, fourth-fastest car, then you start thinking, "What's the best finish we can get?" But when your car's as good as mine was Sunday, you think, "Hey, we can win this thing!"
Of course, saving fuel at the end of the race kept you from making a real charge at Tony Stewart for the lead. How difficult was it to balance the need to save fuel with a racer's natural desire to catch the guy in front of you?
We won three races last year with fuel mileage, and I feel very confident when it comes down to that type of race. I feel like both our engines and the way I drive the cars leaves us a good shot to win 'em. So, I like it. It's not something I'm scared of... it's something I look forward to. But it's stressful. You can't let your emotions get hold of you, because when you've been racing for four hours, as fast as you can go, to all of a sudden slow down and step back in the name of fuel mileage is very, very tough.
In general, though, the idea of starting the cars double-file with all the leaders up front is one of the best moves NASCAR's done in a really long time. It's going to be great for the fans.
But in a sport like NASCAR, how do you balance that philosophy with people always wanting to know your opinion on specific drivers and what they did?
So, it's real simple. If you don't have something good to say, don't say it. Now obviously in the heat of the moment, I've said things and done things -- that happens. But to sit back and comment on other crap that you don't know much about, I think that's the worst.
I've had to read ignorant peoples' comments about things in regards to me, and they don't know me. They don't know what's going on. I have no respect for those people, zero. So, in regard to Kyle, I wasn't there. I wasn't in Victory Lane. Why would I comment on that?
But next Saturday, for me, when I go to Milwaukee, it'll be an hour and a half in the Cup car, and then sitting in a back of an airplane until I get to the race track. Then, I'll race the Nationwide race and sit in the back of an airplane all the way back. And that's not hard.
I have a really good training system, too (the Carmichael training system). My trainer Dean is a good coach, and he and I have prepared for this stuff. Hopefully, it'll go alright.
We're 14 races in. I'm hoping that in the next 12 races, we can get that small advantage back and go into the Chase even ... or with a slight advantage ourselves. The trouble is there's such small things that put you ahead in this sport right now, that in 2009 it's hard to put your finger on one thing.
On the cars ... if you have your shocks and springs and tire pressure set up so that your car doesn't get as tight as someone else's in the center of the corner just by a little bit, it doesn't change during a run as much, then you're going to have that slight advantage to pass one or two cars per green flag run. And you can't make up for that, either.
And with the competition the way it is, these things are a much bigger deal than when I started racing just a few years ago in the Cup series. The differences are smaller, but they have a larger impact.
So, I thought it was a really cool meeting. I thought it was pretty big of NASCAR to have that type of meeting and just say, "Hey, let's hear what you guys think and let's work on this together!" So, I know there's a lot of people saying about what went on in that meeting, but the root and the point of it was Brian France, Mike Helton, and all those guys saying, "We're right here. What do you guys think we can do to make this better? To make it as good as it can be?" I thought that was cool.
Now, all of us who grew up (hopefully) had the same lectures in sportsmanship, that you congratulate someone if they beat you; and hopefully, that's the same things our kids are learning now. But the fact is, you don't know what happened behind the scenes throughout that playoff series. You don't know what went on personally between LeBron and those guys. So, I think you just got to let it go, and it's up to each individual how they want to do things.
I don't think you can force someone to do something, especially if you don't know the whole story.
Have an advice question for Carl? Email Tom at email@example.com, or use the SI mailbag and you can be featured in the next edition!
Damian Walter's 2009 Clip Reel:
If you think Carl's backflips are crazy ... take a look at this guy.
Today's Topic: Late Night Television
Now, if you're going to run the top, it's a lot different. You coast in with a ton more speed, use a lot less brake, and you slide all the way up near the fence. I've run a foot off the fence there, and that's a big, fast corner when you do that. When you're on the top, you generally have your car set up nice and loose, so you don't worry about your car hitting the fence. You come down the back straightaway, and it's a long, flat back straightaway with turn 3 a real sweeping entry. There's a couple of little bumps you got to watch out for, but whether you run the top or the bottom there you come out on the front straightaway and it's one of the widest front straightaways we run. It's curved, so you get the chance to draft off people and run all the way to the bottom. It ends up being a lot of fun trying to time your front straightaway, so you get the most speed drafting off people. It's a neat track, a combination of a superspeedway and a real racy mile-and-a-half, like Atlanta because of the different lines.
I think both of those places are a blast. The media always says, "Hey, it's boring to watch these cars around a two-mile race track." Well, it's not boring for fans who know what's going on. That's one of the neatest places 'cause you're getting to see these cars run out as fast as they'll go. It's fast, and it's fun.